Thursday, 8 September 2011
Birthday present for Nelson Mandela
In July of this year I was asked to sign copies of my play, The Robben Island Bible, to be among the gifts presented by David Cameron to Nelson Mandela for his 93rd birthday. A further copy was presented by the Prime Minister to Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
My play involves interviewing former political prisoners of Robben Island in Cape Town, South Africa who had annotated a smuggled copy of the Complete Works of Shakespeare. Disguised as a religious text in order to deceive the guards, the book became known as the “Robben Island Bible” and was passed from prisoner to prisoner each of whom marked passages of particular significance to their own lives.
This verbatim play is based these selected texts and on interviews with a number of these ex-political prisoners who survived the harsh regime of the prison and the system of apartheid.
It was a great honour for my play to be chosen as a gift for Nelson Mandela. I interviewed the most gentle of men and their stories had a profound effect on me.